We’ve reached the end of another busy week here at FFRF, and things went from bad to worse in this country as the week went on. From ugly to just plain ugh.
FFRF condemns decision to overturn Roe v. Wade
The biggest news of the week, of course, is that the Supreme Court effectively overturned Roe v. Wade today.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation condemns in strongest terms the devastating decision by the Supreme Court’s ultraconservative supermajority to dismantle the fundamental right to an abortion.
“Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens,” Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan wrote in their dissent.
Supreme Court ‘abandons longstanding doctrine‘
Another egregious setback earlier this week was the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision Tuesday in which the court dealt another major blow to true religious liberty in the Carson v. Makin case.
The court has gone contrary to the country’s foundational constitutional principles in striking down Maine’s “no aid” law, a provision meant to ensure that no citizen is forced to fund religious indoctrination at private religious schools, or any religious education that conflicts with their personal beliefs.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissent, signed by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote her own dissent, as well. Breyer warns that the majority is effectively abandoning longstanding doctrine, while Sotomayor fears that it is rejecting the principle of separation between state and church altogether.
Constitution is not ‘divinely inspired’
FFRF also took issue with two speakers during the Jan. 6 committee hearings on Tuesday, who both claimed that the Constitution was “divinely inspired.”
Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers stated to the panel that “It is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired. . .”
Then, during the closing remarks, committee member Rep. Liz Cheney said, “We also have been reminded what it means to take an oath under God to the Constitution, what it means to defend the Constitution. . . And we were reminded by Speaker Bowers that our Constitution is indeed a divinely inspired document.”
Wisconsin refuses to repeal abortion law
Just a few blocks from FFRF’s Freethought Hall, Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called a special legislative session to repeal a pre-Civil War abortion criminalization law. But it went nowhere . . . and fast.
Fourteen seconds in the Senate and 25 seconds in the Assembly. No action was taken by the two heavily Republican-tilting bodies, so the dormant ban remains on the books. What contempt for women’s health and lives this cavalier inaction signals.
Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, Wisconsin’s archaic anti-abortion law is expected to go back into effect.
As of today’s ruling, all four abortion clinics in Wisconsin have closed and no more appointments are being accepted.
Rules for a proper marriage, Christian style
Former FFRF intern Barbara Alvarez, writing on FFRF’s Freethought Now blog, says she happened upon an older book in her neighborhood’s Little Free Library that detailed an outdated and discredited notion of gender roles, especially as it pertains to sex.
She writes: “The truth is, that while it may be easy to ridicule this book for its antiquated and dangerous ideas about gender roles, sex, and marriage, this book isn’t the problem. The problem is harmful patriarchal ideologies that permeate our society, largely because of organized religion, which treats women like second-class citizens. As an atheist, I may scoff at this book. But, as a woman, I am subjected to its teachings every single day.”
Dragging women back to the 1800s
Also on the Freethought Now blog, read FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor’s “Antiabortion states are dragging women back to pre-Civil War times.”
She writes: “Antiabortionists not only want to ban abortion in their own states, but to control what their citizens do in other states. They want to reach outside their own borders and interfere with what citizens in other states do, too, employing either the criminal power of the state or bogus civil harassment to shut down any possibility that women trapped in ‘slave states’ will be able to seek reproductive freedom elsewhere.”
Recovery program violates Constitution
On the legal side of things, FFRF has informed the Yancey County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina that it must terminate its partnership with a “Christ-centered, 12-step recovery program.”
The sheriff’s office has partnered with Celebrate Recovery, which requires “each group to be accountable to Christ, the local church, and the model of Celebrate Recovery established at Saddleback Church.” It says the most important aspect of the program is that “Jesus Christ is the one and only Higher Power.” Celebrate Recovery’s program requires adherence to and belief in Christianity and explicitly excludes all non-Christians.
Poll shows godlessness at all-time high
But, hey, the news this week wasn’t all bad!
FFRF is happy to see the results from a new survey by Gallup that shows the percentage of Americans who do not believe in a god is the highest since the polling company began asking the question nearly 80 years ago.
The Values and Belief poll shows 17 percent of individuals polled indicate they don’t believe in God, with 81 percent believing in God, down from 87 percent in 2017.
The poll also found that younger, liberal Americans are the least likely to believe in God, with a “drop of 10 or more percentage points” compared to the average found in 2013–2017 polls. Among those who are age 18–29, only 68 percent say they believe in God.
Funding boost for IRS should curtain church electioneering
And FFRF is heartened that Congress is planning to allocate more than $6 billion to the IRS to strengthen its enforcement efforts. FFRF hopes with this additional funding that the IRS will crack down on abuse by politicking churches.
The IRS should now have the means to stop flagrant church violations of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits nonprofits from engaging in partisan election activity. While FFRF and many other secular nonprofits go to great efforts to ensure compliance with this important law, some churches and other faith-based organizations have openly endorsed political candidates or parties, abusing the privilege of tax exemption and adding more dark money to politics.
White evangelical racism and Jan. 6
Check out this week’s episode of “Ask an Atheist,” where Annie Laurie Gaylor and Strategic Response Team Intern Charis Hoard speak with the amazing Dr. Anthea Butler, who helped FFRF and the Joint Baptist Committee with its hard-hitting exposé on White Christian nationalism and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Tune into this week’s Freethought Radio podcast where you’ll get to hear FFRF Attorney Sam Grover dissect the Carson v. Makin decision that allows public tax dollars to directly fund religious education. (Again . . . Ugh.)
Then we hear from four winners of FFRF’s David Hudak Memorial student essay contest for Black, Indigenous and People of Color: Galilea Baca, Fadima Tall, Tylinn Wilson and Everett Viego. Then student activist honoree Sami Al Asadi explains how he became an atheist and an activist.
FFRF Pun of the Week
I wanted to be a Gregorian monk, but never got the chants.
Well, that’s it for this week. Now, despite the Supreme Court’s decisions, try and have yourself a great weekend! And we’ll keep fighting for your rights!